Travel Hacks

Follow the Pope around Colombia

In early September, Pope Francis will be in Colombia as part of a five-day apostolic journey that will take him around several cities around the country.

While the general motto of the Pope’s journey is Let’s take the first step, every city visited will have a specific theme. For example, Bogota’s theme is Life; Medellín’s will be Vocation and in Cartagena, the focus will be on Human Rights.

As the country of Shakira and Falcao is preparing itself for this remarkable visit, here at Busbud, we’ve created the perfect guide to help you make the most of your time in the country, should it be before, during or after the Pope’s visit.

 

September 7th: Bogota

Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel

The Pope will launch his journey in the country’s capital of Bogotá. Known as the South American Athens, this cosmopolite city will be teeming with excitement and a must-see to experience Colombian’s attachment to the Pope.

Besides the Pope’s visit, Bogota is a great city to explore on its own, being known for its vibrant city-center and bubbly nightlife. Scroll down for restaurant, activities and sightseeing suggestions.

Where to EAT: El mejor ajiaco del mundo. The pope loves to eat ajiaco[http://www.semana.com/nacion/articulo/visita-del-papa-francisco-a-colombia-datos-curiosos/533874], a soup dish very common in Colombia. Head to this restaurant for a guaranteed world-unique culinary experience. Hey, the name can’t lie, right?

What to SEE: Simon Bolivar Park. This 400-acre park named after El Libertador, a south-american military man and politician, is larger than New-York’s Central Park, and contrary to the latter, has a lot more going on in it. Think Olympic-sized swimming pool, motocross track, amusement and waterpark, as well as lakes and a ton of trees. The Pope will hold a mass there. Starting two hours before the mass, the park will be considered a holy precinct. This means that during that time, you will not be allowed to eat in the vicinity of the park and no musical shows will be tolerated. This will for sure give a very unique and serene atmosphere to the park.

What to DO: Graffiti and Street Art Tour. Walk around the capital city and discover hidden gems of this newly legalized art form. While graffiti has been seen all over Bogota for a few decades, a new generation of artists is rising and making street art central to Bogota’s cultural identity. This particular tour is guided by a Bogotan-based artist and gives an interesting local perspective to graffiti.

How to get to Bogota

September 9th: Medellin

In Medellin, you will be able to cheaply wander through the city during your stay: because exceptionally during the Pope’s visit, the subway will be open 24 hours a day on September 8th and 9th. What an affordable alternative to get back to your hostel after a night out at the bar!

This measure makes sense given the context: the largest event of the Pope’s whole journey — a public mass with that’s expected to draw a crowd of approximately one million attendees — will happen at the Olaya Herrera Airport in Medellín.

Where to EAT: On the streets. Medellin is known for its flourishing street food scene, especially in the La 70 area of town. Make the most of it by heading down to The Meat Man’s stand at the intersection of Calle 46.

Try the picada, a local speciality that includes ribs, chorizo, chicken, beef, as well as coleslaw and fries.

What to SEE: Plaza Botero. This public place holds 23 huge and impressive sculptures made by Fernando Botero, a Medellin-born, world-renowned artist. Without even knowing, you probably have already seen one of his major pieces: the famous ‘’y tho’’ meme image is in fact built on his creation.The Pope will be giving a public mass in the port area of Contecar.

What to DO: Paragliding. For around $40 US, you will be able to glide high above the mountains to the north of the city, and get your heart pumping! Parapente Dragonfly will also take pictures and videos of you during the flight!

Photo by Lina Trochez

How to get to Medellin

September 10th: Cartagena

Formally known as Cartagena de Indias during the colonial period, this city was the premier port of trade used by Spain for commercial purposes with its overseas empire.

Where to EAT: La Cevicheria. This place has won the praises of guides such as Lonely Planet as being the top seafood place in Cartagena. Head there to experience the best ceviche this coastal city has to offer, with fresh fish and chili.

What to SEE: The Walled city of Cartagena. There will be a lot of tourist action going on in this part of town around the Pope’s visit, but you do not want to miss on visiting this UNESCO World Heritage Site where you’ll feel like you’re living in the 16th century South American colonial era.

What to DO: Day trip to Playa Blanca. Escape the beautiful but probably packed Old City to sun and bathe at the white-sand Playa Blanca. Packages under $40 include the round-trip transportation to the beach as well as lunch.

Photo by David Nettles

How to get to Cartagena

Busbud, the best way to book bus tickets online.